By Fossil Collective
2011 ended in fine style for Fossil Collective with time spent recording at Vale Studios and finding a suitable stable for their music by signing to Dirty Hit. Their productive form continued into the New Year with a performance at London's Borderline playing alongside Little Comets and General Fiasco for HMV's "Next Big Thing" in early February. That sell-out show was followed a week or so later by an intimate warm-up gig in Leeds before hitting the road to support Benjamin Francis Leftwich on his UK tour.
They've recently played dates with Ren Harvieu and are gearing up for their first UK headline tour and a busy summer schedule. Their first official release, the first since signing to Dirty Hit, is eagerly awaited by a rapidly increasing fan base that loyally hangs on every tweet, post and status update from "FCHQ". As far as marketing strategies go, though I dare say unintended and more down to their personalities, interacting online with fans every step of the way has endeared them to thousands and helped to swell the numbers waiting to own their debut EP, "Let it go".
"Let it go" is so immediately engaging and beautiful in its simplicity, it's hard not to be instantly spellbound by this perfectly chosen opener. If you want to know where the heart of Fossil Collective's sound is then start here. Dextrously woven sounds and subtly elaborate layers and harmonies nestle in gorgeous production combining to welcome you to the world as seen through their eyes. The gentle guitar and vocals ease you in and then, with a customary refinement, the fuller scope of their sound emerges. No one sound dominates and the result is that all parts complement each other so finely; it's impossible not to be moved at the richness this intricate balance achieves.
I first heard "Satellite" at The Midnight Bell gig back in February and the performance left me desperate to hear the studio recording. It's not every song that makes the melodica sound quite this cool but during the introduction of this song that's what happens; coolness. David Fendick's vocals then soothingly drift over the top of the ambling rhythms, guitar and ukulele while accompanying vocals, bells / tambourine and staggered claps add a communal steel and energy. Yes, I'm saying a song with clapping, percussion, melodica and ukulele is the height of cool. You didn't think so? Well you were wrong and I am right. All's fair in love and Robot Wars.
"Without a Fight" will be familiar to the 100 proud fans that own a copy of the bands' earlier EP; the limited release "Honey Slides EP". The same parts have been re-mixed since that earlier release and although the production quality is more robust and defined for the extra work, the track remains gentle and powerfully mesmerising in equal measure. This is a song to lie in the sun to while clouds pass over you; a song you should hear in an open field to fall fully inside of and in love with. The only thing I can think could make this song any better would be full orchestral accompaniment and for me that'd be just to see how grand a scale the warmth of this song can multiply to without losing that intimacy. A project for a later date maybe? If I had my way, yes.
Presumably taking its name from the idyllic Brazilian bay, "Guaratuba" evokes such rich mis en scene of its elements, they're almost palpable. I could hear the breeze across the bay's rippling water; feel the tropical heat forcing me to seek shaded respite; gaze out across a naturally sculpted vista drenched in and dripping with romance - all this effortlessly conveyed in one listen. A dream holiday remembered or a fantasy set to music? Either way; the emotion is inescapable and utterly captivating. There are some amazing sounds underneath the tune that remind me of Mercury Rev's "Car Wash Hair" (one of my favourite love songs) which I really enjoy about the song too. If the previous track needs to be heard in an open field then here you should be looking out to sea, or watching one of those first perspective hang-gliding videos on Youtube. Trust me, I've tried it and it's almost spiritual.
"Everything but you was facing north" is the final track on the EP and offers even further insight into Fossil Collective's talents. This is probably their most intelligent song I've heard; which is no mean feat. The lyrics are completely involving from the first line and I found myself hearing new elements in the instrumentation with each listen as the words became more familiar. This may not be as instantly hummable as the other songs on the EP but you should be looking to experience something different but equally positive from the music this time. As an insight into how intricately constructed their songs are and how important the words are in the pictures they build, this time to a more beguiling effect, it's a side to their personality I'd love to hear more and more of.
There are infinite reasons why these songs will ensure Fossil Collective's music reaches the wide audience and achieves the acclaim it justifiably deserves. I'll try and sum these up without over-enthusing but with music this good it's hard not to get giddy about it all. I could write about the blend of lyrical fantasy and realism that achieves a heightened sensitivity, the vulnerability that makes David Fendick's vocals all the more appealing in the context of those lyrics, the simplicity yet effectiveness of the harmonies, the thoughtfully textured layers within the music itself, the uplifting character and intelligently hummable nature of the songs, the sheer craftsmanship played out in every note, the respectful but authentic nods in the direction of heroes old and new, the unassuming charm and grounded nature of the boys themselves; in fact I could go on and on (and on and on) but that would be spoiling the discovery you'll make when you hear this EP - that these are obscenely talented musicians and they make spectacular music. I can't remember what led me to hear their music in the first place but I know it was one of the finest evenings of repeat-playing a single track I can recall. Including this EP I now have seven songs to savour and each one keeps offering me more with every listen. Without any hyperbole intended, the only other artist I feel this way about is Midlake, specifically the "The Trials of Van Occupanther" LP, which I guess leaves me in nothing short of a stunned admiration for Fossil Collective and the music they've produced to date.
With busy times ahead the band are set to play Live at Leeds, the UK headline tour includes a gig at Cockpit 3 on 9th June, and they're confirmed for the Limetree Festival amongst other summer dates; so there are plenty of chances to catch Fossil Collective playing live in the region. I'll be at as many of these dates having a mortgage to pay, owning a blind dog and holding down a day-job will permit. My advice, other than to buy this EP as if your life depended on it, would be to make sure you catch them live to see just how they produce the life-affirming sounds that they do. You won't regret it and it might just change your life. Too bold a statement? Meh - I've heard the EP, don't forget!
"Let it go" is released on 11th June and is available to pre-order.. For details and more information on live dates visit the band's website click this http://www.fossilcollective.com